Good morning, TeamUHN!

It is a pleasure to connect with you across care, research, and education through this weekly CEO update – all in service of A Healthier World.

Key reminders and updates

  • Tomorrow on Tuesday, May 18 (12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m.) – Virtual Open Forum on COVID-19.
    • Read answers to FAQs here – updated regularly (Corporate Intranet > COVID-19 Preparedness > Virtual Open Forum (top right box) > Open Forum FAQ).
    • Submit questions here including your full name or enter #UHNCOVID-19x46 on Including your full name will help support transparency and collegiality at UHN.
    • Livestream link here (Chrome/Firefox).
  • Today, UHN News has a story on the General Internal Medicine team on the COVID-19 wards at Toronto General, the latest installment of Dispatches from the Frontline.Read it here. The series, which launched earlier this month, chronicles members of TeamUHN as they battle the pandemic. Thanks to the entire General Internal Medicine team.
  • Good news – advocacy worked: High-risk healthcare workers are now eligible to receive a second dose of vaccine at a shortened interval. This means colleagues in Groups A and B who work on the COVID-19 units, in the Emergency Departments, on the General Internal Medicine floors, ICUs, or clinicians who perform aerosolizing procedures. An all-users message was sent about this last week (please read it carefully if you have not), but I want to thank the leaders and members of TeamUHN who have joined me in advocating for this. Second doses depend on vaccine supply and we will continue to advocate for enough vaccine to complete all healthcare workers in the hospital collaborative – UHN, SickKids, Women's College Hospital, Mount Sinai Hospital and Toronto Grace Health Centre.

What happened at the Executive COVID-19 IMS Table

In response to COVID-19, UHN activated its Executive COVID-19 IMS (Incident Management System) table. Membership includes our Executive Leadership Forum and members of COVID-19 work streams. The group meets on Tuesdays and Thursdays. This is a snapshot of the discussion.

Critical care: Meeting with our ICU colleagues to plan ahead

  • Background: Critical care is currently stable at both UHN acute sites, but we are supporting more than 30 patients requiring ECMO (extracorporeal membrane oxygenation) – a high number. Last week, I was very fortunate to visit the ICU team at Toronto Western to see how they are adapting to team-based models of care. I am inspired by how the teams are embracing change – some colleagues are even thinking about augmenting their critical care education – and we discussed the road ahead. One of our main concerns is managing the balance between exhausted healthcare workers who have been hardest hit by the demands of COVID-19 and the need to catch up on Ontario's building surgical backlog. We will work carefully with the team to strike the best balance possible.
  • Who presented? Marnie Escaf (Vice President, Clinical), Joy Richards (Vice President, Patient Experience; Chief Health Professions), Fayez Quereshy (Vice President, Clinical), Niall Ferguson (Head, Critical Care)
  • What do I need to know? Thank you to our ICU colleagues and redeployed staff at both sites for stepping up so amazingly since Wave 1 and for your flexibility and compassion during this time. Thanks also to Linda Flockhart (Clinical Director, Peter Munk Cardiac Centre) who is temporarily serving as Clinical Director for the ICUs at both Toronto General and Toronto Western, following the departure of our colleague Kim Partridge who retired last week after 36 years of remarkable service.

Regional planning: Post-COVID and long COVID care

  • Background: While case numbers for COVID-19 are now slowly decreasing across Ontario, we discussed augmenting UHN's COVID-19 plan so we can easily flex up and down to support robust COVID-19 services post pandemic – which will include services required for post-COVID care and long COVID. Long COVID is a range of symptoms that can last months after a person is initially infected.
  • Who presented? Marnie Escaf (Vice President, Clinical) and Brian Hodges (Executive Vice President, Education; Chief Medical Officer) and myself.
  • What do I need to know? Post-COVID and long COVID care will require acute, specialized rehab and post-acute programs. As the executive co-leads of Ontario's Critical Command Table, Barb Collins (President & CEO, Humber River Hospital) and I were asked by Ontario Health to start thinking about a process to craft a regional response for post-pandemic COVID care and long COVID services.

Overview of last week

Michener Board of Governors/Education Committee of the Board: Discussing the post-pandemic health system and how UHN will support through education

  • Background: The Michener Board of Governors and the Education Committee are chaired by Cornell Wright (UHN Trustee). Both committees advise the UHN and Michener Institute Boards on education-related activity and increasing the overall effectiveness of UHN's education mandate.
  • What happened last week? The Michener Board of Governors and Education Committee of the Board met to discuss a number of topics, including the role of The Michener Institute of Education in Ontario's COVID-19 response. In brief summary: Designing and implementing the provincial CovidCare Learning platform to support people who were redeployed to critical care and long-term care; Accelerating the final year of training for certain health professions so they could join Ontario's frontline response; Rapidly pivoting to online learning to complete the graduation of healthcare workers; Launching the "Science of COVID-19" information portal thanks to UHN Libraries.
  • What do I need to know? The members of the Michener Board of Governors and Education Committee are focused on the post-pandemic health system and the future vision of Michener – which includes training providers for tomorrow's care (e.g. using big data, artificial intelligence, robotics, etc.) and developing human resource strategies that can be used to enhance staffing across the system.

Finance & Audit Committee of the Board: Approval to proceed with UHN's preliminary operating and capital plan

  • Background: The role of UHN's Finance & Audit Committee is to make recommendations to the UHN Board of Trustees (and Michener Board of Governors) on financial management, facilities and space management, information technology, and compliance oversight. The committee is chaired by Barbara Stymiest (UHN Trustee).
  • What happened last week? On May 12, the Finance & Audit Committee met virtually to discuss our pre-audit 2020/21 financial results and preliminary operating and capital plans for 2021/22. There were also other important updates including the Master Plan and Synapse, as well as an overview of the risks we are managing UHN-wide and compliance with our annual attestations, which confirm that we are meeting UHN's business requirements.
  • What do I need to know? With a full fiscal year impacted by the pandemic, the Committee acknowledged the complexity and challenges we face in balancing operations, while responding to COVID-19 and enabling a variety of pandemic initiatives across UHN (e.g. vaccines). The Finance & Audit Committee recommended the Board of Trustees approve our preliminary operating and capital plan. The plans will be refined once Ministry funding for the 2021/22 fiscal year is confirmed.

Closing notes

  • The Synapse team has increased their town halls to weekly as they adjust activities during Wave 3 to keep the team informed and support well-being. I had the pleasure of attending last week's session and expressed my appreciation for the work the team is doing, which I know is supported and informed by many colleagues across care, research and education, who always put the needs of patients first.
  • May 17 is International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia (IDAHOTB), which commemorates the declassification of homosexuality as a mental illness by the World Health Organization on that date in 1990. IDAHOTB draws global attention to address the violence and discrimination faced by people with diverse sexual orientations, gender identities, gender expressions, and sex characteristics. The theme for 2021 is "Together: Resisting, Supporting, Healing" which urges solidarity with Black, Indigenous and People Of Colour (BIPOC) and LGBTQ2S+ communities who encounter discrimination, healthcare disparities, social, and economic risks based on various intersecting identities, especially during the pandemic. The UHN LGBTQ2S Steering Committee affirms continued solidarity with the Indigenous Health Team program, UHNWomen, and the Employee Resource Groups at UHN: Accessibility Advisory Committee, Black Legacy Committee, and the new Pan Asian Committee. For more information, please visit the UHN LGBTQ2S+ Intranet page [Editor's Note: Link is no longer available]. For more information about Employee Resource Groups, contact
  • Congratulations to Dawn Lim (Emergency Medicine Physician) who photographed her UHN colleagues on the frontline of the pandemic for a powerful and moving photo essay last year. Her photos were featured in Maclean's June 2020 issue – including the cover! – which has now been nominated for a National Magazine Award in the category 'Cover Grand Prix'. Winners are announced June 11. To learn more about Dawn's pandemic photo essay, read this story on UHN News.


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Have a good week,


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